LEAH FORESTER | INTERVIEW

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BY MARCIA LEONE

Leah Forester is a fashion & interior stylist, mother of twins, and cast member of my new reality TV obsession "There Goes the Motherhood." TGTM recently aired in the U.S. on Bravo TV, and in Australia on Arena TV. The show follows a group of  Los Angeles mamas through motherhood & guided parenting therapy. Trust me when I say it's addictive.

At the beginning of the series Leah's beauty and effortless style exudes a controlled sassiness and confidence, but it doesn't take long for her to open up to the surprise of fellow cast-mates revealing her vulnerable side as she explores the life-long struggle with her mother and challenges in her marriage . Real, honest and uber stylish, I chat to Leah about all things style and Motherhood.

I love TGTM! What was it that appealed to you about being part of the show? 

Thank you so much! “There Goes the Motherhood” was the greatest leap of faith and risk I have taken so far! Reality tv has a bad name but I felt confident about the creators of the show, Jill Spivack and Jennifer Waldberger, who have decades of experience leading mommy groups. They are women of integrity and I knew they would honor our stories and our children, which was my chief concern in getting involved.  I felt that if I kept my focus on sharing honestly and treating my cast mates with kindness, the viewers would feel that and it would be an interesting challenge to use reality tv for positivity rather than women tearing each other down.

You are very real and  honest about the "not so perfect' aspects of life, and I think that's what appeals to many. Do you ever regret sharing personal details like marriage issues? Were your family on board from the beginning?  

It was definitely scary to share things that I was grappling with in real time!  But no one wants to see Perfect.  We get enough of that everywhere else we look:  billboards, social media, TV.  Moms need to know it is OK to admit that we are all finding our own way, stumbling along, full of guilt, and hoping we aren’t screwing our kids up! I knew that a very valuable thing I had to share was this life long struggle with my Mom, which was affecting my relationship with my own daughter.  Moms don’t often share with each other the sometimes dark side of family history and that’s been the most important thing for me to honestly look at so that I can consciously create a happy family, very different from the one I grew up in.   Shedding light on the power of generational patterns and giving women the permission to talk about that was my greatest reward.

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You had a successful career in fashion pre-children. How did you handle the transition from this fast-paced  lifestyle to becoming a mother of twins?  

I was a big transition…. with twins you don’t have much room for your own thoughts and dreams for at least 2 years and around that time I began to throw myself into the kitchen - cooking constantly, feeding the children in a healthful way, and using my home as a canvas for creativity.  I’m always overflowing with creative urges so I have to put that somewhere and our home was the logical place to start.  Also, the internet gave me a place to express myself.  I think that’s why there are so many Mom Bloggers!  We are isolated but need connection and validation that we are still relevant even when we haven’t taken a shower or left the house for a week!  So I started posting my recipes, art projects with the kids, and inspiring ideas on motherhood and it made me feel like I could take the reins in my career again slowly.  Having that body of work online was a huge benefit when the opportunity to do the show came along; it defined my voice and my point of view.  I just kept following that need to express my ideas and it has served me well.

I understand  that now your kids are older you are able to juggle motherhood with your career, but was it difficult to choose one over the other when they were little?

On the one hand it was a relief to let myself just be a mother and not pressure myself to also achieve career success.  But after a few years I felt like my whole career had faded away and I needed to feed that part of myself again.  The balance is still tricky because building a body of work takes dedication and sometimes I feel like I’m saying “Mommy has work to do”  way too much!  But women are creative forces and we need to honor that in whatever way feels right.  My own mother didn’t chase her own dreams, she let them die.  I want my daughter to see an example of loving, creative, fierce determination so she can embody the same.

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On the show you are very clear about the importance of nurturing your relationship with your husband. What do you think is the secret to a happy marriage?

Not holding onto anger.  Making space for fun together.  Laughing.  Shared adventures.  Keeping the flame alive in your sex life so that you CAN move past the bumps in the road when the arise.  As my husband likes to say, “Mommy needs her medicine”!  When we feel loved and turned on, those daily annoyances really decrease!

How would you describe your mothering style?

Conscious.  I want to SEE my children with clear eyes.  That means I have to start with seeing myself with clear eyes, especially the no-so-pretty parts, so those parts aren’t running the show!  I try to honor my children as my teachers and know that when it’s tough there is a learning opportunity I need to look for.  We also create a lot of fun and adventure for our children.  I want them to go into adolescence feeling that their family unit is the place of fun and love — I genuinely want to be their FRIEND because one day (not too far from now) they will need a real true friend they can rely on for honest answers, help when they are in trouble, and safety in this crazy world!

How has Buddhism influenced your life as a mother?

Buddhism allows me to see myself and others clearly.  When I chant, it feels like sunshine pouring into my life, illuminating the darkness and sparking unshakeable contentment.  We can’t always be “happy” but we can cultivate a core part of ourselves that returns to gratitude, faith, and determination when life throws curve balls at us.  This is the true foundation of my journey as a mother.

What are three essentials every new mother needs in their wardrobe.

A pair of great fitting black jeans she can wear day or night (black looks polished and hides baby weight)

Good quality ballet flats (they make everything look ladylike and pulled together)

A sexy lightweight sweater that hides the belly but shows off assets like a beautiful shoulder, back, or cleavage.

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Name three things you never leave home without. 

Relentlessly Red matte lipstick by MAC!

A pair of ridiculously fun sunglasses (I love Quay)

Art supplies for the kids — never know when we will need to occupy ourselves at a restaurant!

I believe it is important to nurture yourself to be the best mother possible. How do you spend your "me time”?

Reading books that inspire me, chanting, scouring thrift stores for unique vintage pieces, learning something new — I recently picked up the guitar after wanting to learn forever.

What is your favourite way to spend family time?

We love to play chess, draw together, and enjoy the unique scenery of Venice with it’s beaches, colorful characters, and creative vibe.  Every Sunday night we join the Venice Electric Light Parade with our light up bikes & a crazy fur wolf scooter we created for Burning Man.  The kids LOVE it!

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